Pumpkin Creek Project

Limited Irrigation Cropping for Conserving Water Resources
In the Pumpkin Creek Watershed


Wild pumpkins in Pumpkin Creek ValleyDeclining groundwater levels and recurrent drought across the high plains and inter-mountain west has magnified this problem. The State of Nebraska recognized the relationship between ground and surface water with the passing of LB 108. Under current Nebraska law, ground water is regulated by 23 Natural Resource Districts and surface water is regulated by the Department of Natural Resources.

Over 20 years ago, the Department of Natural Resources closed Pumpkin Creek to the issuance of new surface water rights due to low stream flow. In March 2001, the North Platte Natural Resources District established the Pumpkin Creek Ground Water Management Subarea and closed the subarea to new irrigation well drilling. In 2004 the North Platte Natural Resources District imposed a 14-acre inch allocation for irrigation within the subarea. Because of ground and surface water conflicts caused by the increased consumptive use of ground water, better management is required to reduce the causes of the conflict. This ruling will cause major changes in the way producers irrigate in the Pumpkin Creek Watershed.

To meet this challenge, farmers need to adopt no-tillage, water-conserving cropping systems that maximize economic returns while conserving ground water supplies that often help sustain base flow of neighboring wetlands, creeks or streams. The overall goal of this project is to initiate a program of demonstration and education to reduce the surface and ground water conflicts in the Pumpkin Creek Watershed. This will be done with the help of research and demonstration projects conducted over the last 10 to 30 years in other areas of Nebraska. Adjustments and adaptations will be required because in western Nebraska, the annual precipitation is lower, the soils are much sandier and the cropping mix is different.

The links at the top of this page provide an overview of the project, a brief history of the project area, what the grower / cooperators have tried and accomplished, and where more information can be found.


Contact Us:

* Gary Hergert, Project Director
* Gary Stone, Educator
* Partner: North Platte NRD, co-sponsor
* Partner: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (Nebraska)

The North Platte River: Surface Water Irrigation Projects and Power Generation

This presentation provides a basic history and information about the North Platte River U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projects '“ surface irrigation, power generation and other related irrigation and power generation projects '“ on the North Platte River drainage. By Gary Stone, Extension Educator, Panhandle Research & Extension Center.